“Despicable Me’s” little yellow henchmen got their own origin movie with “Minions,” but how does an entire movie about gibberish-speaking comic relief characters stack up? Community blogger Brendon McCullin offers his take.
In this image released by Universal Pictures, various minion characters appear in a scene from the animated feature, “Minions.” (Illumination Entertainment/Universal Pictures via AP)
Any parent of a child under 12 is familiar with the Minions, the comic relief of 2010′s “Despicable Me” and its sequel, 2013′s “Despicable Me 2.” With the third film in the series not due to be released until 2017, the little yellow, pill-shaped henchmen were given their own origin story film with “Minions.”
Of course, making a feature film about characters that talk in a weird amalgam of gibberish mixed with stray English, Spanish and French words is a unique challenge.
The story follows the yellow dudes as they initially spend history trying to find a villain to follow. From a T-Rex through Napoleon, they seek out the baddest of the bad to offer their undying support. Viewers of the Minions’ other work, however, are well aware that despite their best intentions, things don’t always go the way they want.
Caught in a rut, three of group — leader Kevin, hipster Stuart and sweetly dim Bob — are charged with trying to find a new master, leading them to the United States circa 1968. At an event in pre-Disney Orlando, they boys hook up with a female super-villain named Scarlett Overkill, voiced by Sandra Bullock.
Along with Scarlet’s husband, Herb (John Hamm), the group jets off to swinging London to try to steal the Crown Jewels from a very feisty Queen Elizabeth (Jennifer Saunders of “Absolutely Fabulous” fame).
As one would expect, the plot is more an excuse to get from joke to joke, and some of the jokes are certainly funny. Palace guards are hypnotized into performing “Hair,” the Minions use London Tower’s dungeon as a playground, and their former masters all meet their demise in comical fashion.
What’s missing, though, is anything of particular interest from the human characters. Whereas in the first two films the relationship between not-quite-evil Gru and his adopted daughters give the yellow dudes something to play against, all of the human characters in “Minions” lack any real depth.
Given the lack of communication skills of the title characters, directors Pierre Coffin (who provides the voice of the Minions) and Kyle Balda might’ve been expected to harken back to the days of silent film comedians like Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd. Those early film stars didn’t need words to be convey emotions while they were being funny, and the animated Minions are capable of the same. Instead, they treat the film as just an extended version of the various short films that have been tagged onto the earlier films’ DVD releases.
The scattershot nature of the humor will be plenty to keep the kids laughing, and many of them have been waiting months to see the latest exploits of the little yellow guys, as evidenced by the film’s $115-million opening weekend. It just might have been nice to find more of the earlier films’ heart mixed in with the candy-colored antics.